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Ukrainian forces in the southern port city of Mariupol defied a Russian ultimatum yesterday to lay down their arms, sources say. The offer reportedly would’ve allowed safe passage to roughly 2,500 soldiers holding out at the Azovstal steel plant in the eastern part of the city. The massive mill covers roughly 4 square miles and is believed to be the last major pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the city. 

The capture of Mariupol would mark the most significant gain for Russia after a series of successive setbacks. Analysts say it would allow additional Russian forces to turn their attention to what is expected to be a significant assault on the contested Donbas region (see overview), which sits to the northeast.  

Mariupol has been blockaded and under siege for weeks, and city officials estimate at least 10,000 civilians have been killed during the fighting, though the figure has not been confirmed. 

See updates on the broader war here.